WASHINGTON, D.C. — SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 – Today the Institute for Liberty’s President Andrew Langer released the following statement in response to reports that four journalists cooperated with the progressive Center for Responsible Lending in crafting messaging.
“I am outraged and disgusted that these so-called 'objective' journalists from some of the most-respected news organizations around the world would participate in an event that explicitly pushed a political agenda. This conference on September 12, sponsored by the left-wing advocacy group Center for Responsible Lending, focused on ‘messaging’ that organization's narrow vision of bank reform, and their ultimate goal of destroying the for-profit short-term lending industry. Reporters who participated in the off-the-record, behind-closed-doors session were: Danielle Douglas of The Washington Post, Alan Zibel of The Wall Street Journal, Kate Davidson of Politico, and Rachel Witkowski of The American Banker.
The Society of Professional Journalists in their Code of Ethics warns against the creation of conflicts of interest that reporters can face, and, in our view, crossing the line from objective reporting to outright advocacy breaches that code.
We call on the Ombudsmen from Politico, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The American Banker to investigate the respective reporters’ participation and review their outlet’s ethics rules about speaking at such an overtly political and advocacy-focused conference. We suspect that these reporters were invited to speak as they have all written on this issue before, mostly with a slanted view of the left’s narrative to shut down perfectly legitimate industries, like the short-term loan industry, through Operation Choke Point. Do they know that CRL and its leader, Martin Eakes, receive millions of taxpayer dollars in government funding to offer an alternative to payday and short-term lending?
The hallmark – the lifeblood – of any free society is an independent and objective press. The idea that journalists are allowing themselves to be co-opted by government-funded organizations to push that pro-government agenda smacks of propagandizing – the very kind of propagandizing that kills liberty and destroys free societies."
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